The military will continue to allow its transgender members to serve until it gets more direction from the president and the secretary of defense. But transgender rights activists say even if a ban isn't being enforced yet, the damage is already done.
As a child psychology professor, Aron Janssen sees kids struggling with gender identity issues all the time. Many of them are keenly aware of what happens in Washington. Janssen said that kids as young as 5 talk to him about their fears. He said that in the last day he has fielded calls from transgender kids and their parents concerned about President Trump's transgender military ban and what that means for their future.
Janssen said children are feeling a "burden" after a series of tweets from Trump announcing the ban, citing the burden of medical costs and disruption the president said is brought on by transgender service members.
Along with questions over the ban itself come new questions about its impact on trans youth. Among the estimated 150,000 transgender teens in the United States, the risk of suicide, depression, and substance abuse is exceptionally high. Studies have put the rate of transgender youth suicide attempts at 50 percent.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement Thursday that the military won't take any action until it gets "formal guidance from the White House" about the president's announcement.
"We will provide detailed guidance to the department in the near future for how this policy change will be implemented," White said. "The department will continue to focus on our mission of defending our nation and on-going operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect."